Archives by Day

May 2019

Pumped BMX Pro

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Curve Digital
Developer: Yeah Us! Games
Release Date: Feb. 7, 2019

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


PC Review - 'Pumped BMX Pro'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on March 11, 2019 @ 12:45 a.m. PDT

The momentum-based BMX freestyler takes the action to the next level with a beautiful new look, a fresh new physics engine and more content than ever before!

A few years ago, the one-man team at Yeah Us! And Curve Digital released Pumped BMX+. As a port of the iOS original, it was a fine budget title that failed to add anything new or improve upon what was already offered in its original incarnation. The game was at least successful enough to warrant a sequel in the form of Pumped BMX Pro, and while sequels are supposed to be better than their predecessors, this title doesn't fulfill that expectation.

The most succinct way to describe the gameplay in Pumped BMX Pro is that it resembles the Trials series but with BMX bikes instead of fully powered dirt bikes. Your job is to make it from one end of the short track to another in one piece, while jumping hills and ramps and grinding on rails. Finishing the race is one thing, and it can be pretty tough considering that this is more of a physics-based racer than a straightforward arcade-based one. However, each track comes with extra objectives that range from completing certain tricks to achieving a certain high score. Completing those objectives helps you unlock more tracks for a total of 60 courses to ride through.

The controls are a little different from other physics racers, with the exception of the game's predecessor. When using a controller, your A button is multifunctional; you need to hold it down to go forward, and you need to let it go at the apex of a ramp to jump. Hitting it again on your descent allows you to accelerate your downward motion, essentially bombing down to gain more speed. Your triggers dictate rotation when in the air, and your left analog stick dictates your flips in the air and what kind of grind you'll do when on a rail. Your right analog stick handles your tricks, one for each of the eight directions you can take. Using the stick in conjunction with your shoulder buttons opens up more tricks, but each of the shoulder buttons lets you access different tricks depending on which one is pressed, giving you a total of 24 tricks instead of 16.

The controls are easy to grasp with a little practice, but there are other elements that don't work in the game. Paramount among those concerns is the physics, which can be best described as inconsistent. Pedaling your bike doesn't seem to provide you with much speed, and even if you can get used to the jumping system, your jumps randomly go between floaty and quick. Bombing on your descent is also a random affair; sometimes, you'll get it just right and start to build speed, and other times, on the same landing spot, you'll land with no speed change whatsoever. When you consider how each track needs to be completed perfectly, the inconsistent physics can make the game frustrating.

The wonky physics system is amplified by the level design. After the very first level, you start to get jumps that are too large and hills that are too steep. You expect this kind of challenge to be thrown at you around the middle of the game, but this hits you in the very early stages. With the physics being less polished than before, these stages become a chore to get through for reasons that aren't initially clear, so stages meant to teach you about the game end up making you want to stop playing. It almost feels like Pumped BMX Pro was meant strictly for veterans who already know how to handle the physics system while also excluding everyone else in the process.

There are a few good things the title has working for it. Load times are almost instantaneous, so it's quick to fail and retry are quick. The levels are varied enough, and the small animations happening in the background and foreground are nice little distractions. The tutorial system is also good at teaching things at a gradual pace instead of giving you all of the info at once, but having the B button used to continue in the tutorial is an odd choice, since that's never used to confirm things in other games.

One big difference the game has is the inclusion of pro riders and bikes. Guys like Chris Doyle and Chase Hawk are here, and some of the big BMX bike companies, like Cult and Haro, have their wares represented. There's also the option to customize your bike, but that's limited to colors instead of parts. While these things hearken back to the heyday of the extreme sports genre in gaming, where brands and famous people were almost a prerequisite, none of the choices you make affect the game. With everyone being the same, your choices are merely aesthetic, so there's barely any satisfaction in unlocking a new person or bike.

The presentation mimics the rest of the game in that it is better in some areas and worse in others. The backgrounds retain the cartoon look of the original, and while the riders animate well, the licensed riders in this new cartoon form don't look as appealing as the generic kid from the first title. The animations are good, but the lack of ridiculous crash animations is disappointing when almost everyone expects it. The trick counter in the upper right corner is also tougher to read this time, so you're sometimes not sure which trick you pulled off. The sound effects are a little sparse, but the real crime is the singular track that plays for each stage, a big departure from the much livelier and varied soundtrack from the first game.

Pumped BMX Pro is more of a regression for the series than a progression. The tougher-to-handle physics, combined with a set of tracks that fail to ease players into the game, make for a title that is only good for veterans of the first game. The presentation is mediocre at best, and the lack of meaningful unlockables makes the whole thing feel like a chore. Unless you must have this title for some reason, there are certainly better options to fulfill your physics-based trick fix.

Score: 5.5/10

More articles about Pumped BMX Pro
blog comments powered by Disqus